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Are peripheral regions in troubled waters for sustainability transitions? A systematic analysis of the literature

Mário Vale, Angeliki Peponi, Luís Carvalho, Ana Patrícia Veloso, Margarida Queirós, Paulo Morgado

European Urban and Regional Studies

While the role of cities and regions is increasingly acknowledged for climate action and discussed in the literature on sustainability transitions, the specific condition of peripheral regions has received less attention. This article develops a bibliometric review to shed light and discuss how the (multi-dimensional) notion of periphery has been conceived and implicitly declinate in different literature streams studying low-carbon sustainability transitions at the sub-national level. While the studies explicitly addressing the issues of peripherality are still scarce, the article identifies four critical dimensions that contribute to frame structural bottlenecks and opportunities: socio-spatial unevenness, asset fragility, network positionality and agency and the multi-scalar embeddedness of transition policies. At the interface of urban and regional studies and sustainability transitions’ research, these dimensions open up new research challenges and trading zones ahead for peripheral regions on navigating troubled waters of sustainability transitions.

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